The Difference between Optimistic and Pessimistic Thinking

by Angelina Gage
The Difference between Optimistic and Pessimistic Thinking

I took a class called the psychology of thinking and it really changed my perspective on life.  I discovered the role between optimistic and pessimistic thinking patterns within happiness levels. I’ve always been a very positive person in life.  I like to focus on the bright side of life, whatever the situation may be. However, I have a lot of friends that do not have this outlook on life. They prefer to look at the more negative side of a situation and dwell on how awful something may be. I learned the difference between optimistic and pessimistic thinking.

I’m a firm believer that you attract the energy that you give out into this world.

Optimistic thinkers tend to focus on the good aspects of life. There are three explanatory reasons as to why they have more successful thinking styles than pessimistic thinkers.


Optimists tend to view bad times as temporary. Because of this, they are cognitively able to bounce back after failures or setbacks. However, pessimists are more likely to ruminate on negative events. They see it as permanent and unchangeable. This is why they are more likely to give up when things get tough.


When things go wrong, optimists tend to lay the blame on external forces or circumstances. Pessimists, on the other hand, are more likely to blame themselves for the unfortunate events in their lives. At the same time, optimists tend to view good events as being a result of their own efforts.  While pessimists link good outcomes to external influences.


When optimists experience failure in one area, they do not let it influence their beliefs about their abilities in other areas. Pessimists, however, view setbacks as more pervasive. In other words, if they fail at one thing, they believe they will fail at everything.
There are also many beneficial effects to having a more optimistic outlook on life. Optimists tend to have lower levels of bad physical health such as lower risk for cancer, physical symptoms, chronic stress, and even mortality rate. Optimism can also help with better mental health. Focusing less on negative effects of life can decrease risk for anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues. Being optimistic also helps for personal goals for oneself.

My psychology class really opened my eyes about thinking patterns and how that influences your mental health.

I know that not everyone can just flip a switch and become an optimistic cheerleader. However, I think being aware of your thinking patterns and realizing the effects of those patterns is beneficial to anyone.

About the author: Angelina Gage
My name is Angelina Gage and I'm a junior at California State University, Chico. My major is communication studies with a minor in psychology. When I'm not in school, I spend time in my hometown located in the Bay Area. I love spending time with friends, traveling, and photography. I'm interested in public relations, social media, and marketing strategies.

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